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Proposed bill would legalize betting on esports in Iowa

House File 2497 is looking to legalize betting on esports and mentions cashless payments.

DES MOINES, Iowa — A proposed bill that would legalize esports in Iowa is one step closer to becoming law. 

House File 2497 is on the calendar to be debated. State Sen. Tony Bisignano, D-Des Moines, is the ranking member of the State Government Committee and said the proposed bill deals with two major topics.

One is cashless wagering. 

"To allow access to your bank account on the gaming floor which now currently we restrict," Bisignano said. "You would do it like an app in sports betting and you would just deposit money into your account."

The other topic this includes is legalizing betting on esports. 

"If you play Call [Of] Duty, any number of those types of games, we just think it's something any number of those people like to do, and they like to track and follow people that play those same games," Wild Rose Casino Entertainment Director of Operations Rick Gilson said.

He also noted the potential for casinos to offer cashless wagering and betting on esports is a way to attract younger crowds to the casino. 

However, Tom Coates, president of Consumer Credit of Des Moines, said he fears if this bill goes through young people, mostly men, will get sucked into betting all of their money away.

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"It will put them in a situation that they wouldn't have been in otherwise," Coates said. "These young men wouldn't have got engaged or involved if these opportunities were  not out front legal and advertised."

Wes Erhecke, president of the Iowa Gaming Association, thinks even though esports betting could be risky for Iowans, only certain games will be approved. And he hopes this will put more people's minds at ease. 

"There is a governing body for collegiate sports, professional sports and they have to be an esport that is governed by [the governing body] but then the Racing and Gaming Commission upholds the integrity that people come to expect and the necessary oversight and set the standards.

Bisignano said the legislation already passed the Iowa House once but has been changed in the Senate. If it passes the Senate, the House will have to agree with those changes before heading the governor's desk.

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